Crown Entities Reform Bill

Speech – The Maori Party

The Maori Party has campaigned, long and hard, for a system of Government which is cost–effective; transparent and accountability. We want to be clear from the outset. Our focus has always been that we want to see more community services and less government …Crown Entities Reform Bill

Rahui Katene; MP for Te Tai Tonga
Tuesday 4 October 2011

The Maori Party has campaigned, long and hard, for a system of Government which is cost–effective; transparent and accountability.

We want to be clear from the outset.

Our focus has always been that we want to see more community services and less government bureaucracy for the outcome of whanau restoration.

Our emphasis has always been on reinvigorating ourselves – restoring to ourselves the possibilities of achieving the aspirations we set for ourselves.

This Bill, moves some ways towards, putting in place the machinery of government changes to increase the efficiency of the Public Service while delivering better services.

In doing so, it will help enable us to focus on what is really important – outcomes rather than inputs; the results rather than the activities.

In this way it is actually consistent with many of the initiatives we have advanced during this term of Government, particularly of course Whanau Ora.

In our 2008 policy we looked at the opportunity for the Office of the Controller and Auditor General being required to report annually on the effectiveness of interventions targeted at Maori, Pacific, refugee and migrant communities as well as young people.

This is a way of holding Kawanatanga to account: ensuring that the Government really does serve the public – and all members of the public – to the best of their ability.

By implication, the Party supports the effective administration of government, including state sector crown entities. The Party supports a cost-effective public sector, but not at the expense of people’s mental and physical health, and state sector worker’s rights and jobs.

The first tranch of changes introduced in this bill are enclosed in Part one addressing the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act.

The Bill authorizes the disestablishment of related bodies to establish a single Health Promotion Agency.

The entities that will be merged into the one body include the
• Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand, more commonly known as ALAC;
• the Health Sponsorship Council, and
• related aspects of the Ministry of Health.

The key for us is that the dedicated commitment of the individuals and the work programmes encompassed within both ALAC and the HSC must be supported to continue even though the infrastructure around these agencies is dissipated.

And so we will be keeping a watching brief on the way in which advice, recommendations and research related to problems associated with the misuse of alcohol will be included in this new Agency; as well as the priorities of the Health Sponsorship Council.

The Maori Party believe we must really focus on the long-term outlook – the intergenerational shift that will ensure we reduce alcohol related harm right across the whanau.

The New Zealand Medical Journal in June this year, reported that a large proportion of New Zealanders report the experience of physical, social, economic and psychological harm because of the drinking of others. This broader context of Whanau Ora must be considered in the discussion of alcohol policy and how it will be implemented in the new Health Promotion Agency.

We need to invest in wellbeing – to study the motivators and triggers that are associated with alcohol use within the whanau. It is about denormalising drinking; distancing our communities from the grasp of the alcohol industry.

When I spoke on the Alcohol Reform Bill a couple of weeks ago, I referred to an interesting comparison made by Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu to the regime of environmental management.

It was their contention that the rights protected under Article Two of Te Tiriti o Waitangi include the capacity to protect and preserve the wellbeing of our greatest taonga – our people.

Accordingly their view is that iwi have a right to be decision-makers on the supply and regulation of alcohol within their respective ancestral lands. We will be considering these issues further as this bill progresses to the select committee stage; to enable a tighter focus on how health promotion activities and targets will be determined in association with mana whenua.

The second part of the Bill relates to the expiry of the Mental Health Commission Act 1998; it provides for the appointment of a Mental Health commissioner under the Health and Disability Commissioner Act; and for the appointment of the chairperson of the Mental Health Commission as the first Mental Health Commissioner.

It also seeks to transfer the advocacy and monitoring functions of the Mental Health Commission to the Health and Disability Commissioner.

We want to know how the mental health sector relates to these proposals, and in all honesty, a key way of being able to achieve this will be in ensuring the bill enters into a process of robust consultation, from which we are confident that advocates and consumers of the mental health community will contribute.

The third party of this bill moves to disestablish the Charities Commission and transfer its functions to the Department of Internal Affairs.

It also proposes to transfer the process of registration and deregistration of charities to be carried out by an independent decision-making board of three persons.

While we understand the inevitable; we have to admit to being greatly disappointed that the autonomy and independence of ht Charities Commission is being compromised by the integration into the administration of a central government agency.

And we do have to wonder how the community and voluntary sector will respond to this latest change; particularly hot on the hells of the Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector moving into the Department of internal affairs.

The Maori Party has always considered it one of our most critical priorities to empower communities, whanau and hapu to develop responses to issues impacting on them; by trusting them and resourcing them.

Communities and their relationships with central and local government are critical to our assessment as to the effectiveness or otherwise of the proposals contained in this Bill.

And I am mindful of the agreement for a first principles review of the Charities Act 2005 to be completed by 2015. The review will consider whether the legislation is fit for purpose and reflects the needs and composition of our charitable sector.
An inevitable issue that arises for us is are we placing the cart before the horse – dismantling the Charities Commission before we actually know whether the current mechanism is fit for purpose or not?

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party will support the Bill in its first reading in order to allow time for all Maori groups and individuals who have a stake in this issue to tell the select committee what they think of this Bill, and how they think it may affect any of these services to Maori in the future.

Voting in the future will consider these public submissions.

In the meantime, to enable this Bill to be open to the full, free and frank scrutiny of the community we support this Bill at its first reading.

ENDS

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